Starting Point Conference


February 18th -20th, 2015 – 130 student entrepreneurs traveled to Halifax from all corners of Canada. Good times were had by all. We even gave away over $9,000 in funding and prizes!

Here’s a look at what went on…

After registration, we kicked things off with the Reception and ‘Big Ideas’ Trade Show. Participants were able to have a glass of wine and have a bite while mingling with fellow student entrepreneurs, community members, conference partners and speakers. Of course, we had some piano music playing in the back to set the mood. A few student business owners even had the chance to show off their “Revolutionary Ideas” as part of the Trade Show.

The following day was filled with high-intensity, high-energy learning with the Master Classes. Participants learned from young, successful entrepreneurs who aren’t just preaching about concepts and theories that help businesses. These folks are in the thick of it, doing it. Topics included: “Selling, Like a Boss”, “Design as a Strategic Advantage” and “Starting a Business with Zero ‘Business Knowledge'”.

Master Class Instructors Were:
Gloria Roheim McRae, Wedge15
Patrick LaRoche, topLog
Saeed El-Darahali, SimplyCast
Wendy Brookhouse, Black Star Wealth
Hamza Khan, Splash Effect
Ricardo McRae, Wedge 15
Leah Skerry, Eyeread
Rob MacKenzie, AramaxIP Services Ltd.
Mike Cameron, Axiom Mortgage Partners
Kristy O’Leary, Scout & Burrow
Ryan Joseph, Famous Folks
Matthew Pickup, Fosch Capital

What conference is complete without a panel of experts telling you their tips and tricks? Rumeet Billan, Founder of Jobs in Education, Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, President and CEO of Digital Nova Scotia, and Duncan Enman, Founder of Can Stock Photo did just that! While we listened to these power houses tell us their stories we had our supper and played with lego. Can you go wrong with that combo?

To get the heart pumping and the juices flowing on the morning of the 20th, we hosted Funder Speed Dating. Yes, you heard us right. Student business owners pitched their ideas to folks with cash in thier pockets. Six businesses walked away with money to spend:
– Bitness
– Pet Konekt
– Klar Hockey
– Enersave
– DRC Incubator
– Kind Lifestyle Boutique

To help these beautiful young minds come up with those “Revolutionary Ideas” we spoke of, we held an Ideation Tournament. What is an Ideation Tournament you ask? Well we put people into groups, gave them some tips, and told them to solve the student debt issue. At the end of 2 hours they submitted videos that were judged by our esteemed judges. Each member of the winning team walked away with $500. Not bad for 2 hours of work.

Lastly, before we gave out all the awards, we heard from our Keynote Speaker, Mark Brand. Mark is a serial social entrepreneur from Vancouver best known for his business ‘Save on Meats’. He gave us the inside scoop on the troubles he overcame and how he uses creative thinking to run his businesses. We LOVED him!

Thanks for braving the winter with us and we hope to see you at #StartingPoint2016!


Our second year is now under our belt and we couldn’t be happier! From February 17-19, 2016, 140 student entrepreneurs came to Halifax from 6 different provinces. Not only did we up our registration but we upped the stakes by giving away over $11,500 in funding and prizes!

Here’s what happened…

In typical Starting Point fashion, we kicked things off with the Opening Reception & ‘Big Ideas’ Trade Show. The businesses showcased this year ranged from a 3D printing & prototyping business from Nova Scotia, to a clothing company from New Brunswick. This is the time for students to show off what they’re doing and get excited abou the next 2 days of conference. Students had the opportunity to meat a few of their speakers and some folks from the Halifax business community.

This year’s Master Classes did not dissappoint! Students heard from entrepreneurs on topics ranging from how to think more socially in your business, to making your business run on auto pilot, and everything in between. There was something for everyone.

Master Class Instructors Were:
~ Leslie Gallagher, Work Local
~ Brian Jeffcock, Affinio
~ Marie Poulin, Digital Strategy School
~ Gregg Curwin, TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture
~ Jordan Whelan, Grey Smoke Media
~ Adam Watson, Pristine Property Management
~ Ricky Neckles, Serial Entrepreneur
~ Yien Ha-Watson, Reve Event Design
~ Michael Sanderson, KarmaBuy
~ Sean Gallagher, Lion & Bright Cafe Bar
~ Andrew Ray, Innovacorp

This year’s panel featured rock stars like Faten Alshazly from WeUsThem, Charlotte Rydlund from PACTA, and Simon Jalbert from Rookie. They shared their wisdom with the group about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

We tried something new this year and played a little entrepreneurial trivia. We had a lot of fun and the winning team walked away with a few gift cards. Not a bad way to end a full day of learning. 

On the third day of the conference we like to host a series of events that are geared towards putting what the students have learned the day before into practice. So to start things off we had the students pitch their businesses in Funder Speed Dating. We’ve steped up our game from last year with six funders in the room giving away money to deserving businesses. Our keynote speaker Joey Adler even took part! Student were given 5 minutes to pitch their idea to each funder. It’s fast, intense and an incredible learning experience.   

Here’s who won the cash:

~ Tech Teens
~ Under the Bridge
~ Coat & Shelter
~ Canadian Snowboard Club
~ Eureka Technologies
~ Diamond’s Den Photography
~ RezSolutions
~ Balance902

To keep the energy high and the creative juices flowing, we held our world famous Ideation Tournament! Ok, it’s not world famous but it’s pretty awesome.  How does it work? We split the students into groups and give them an unsolvable problem. Then they have to solve it using entrepreneurship, create a video and send it in all within 2.5 hours. This year’s winners walked away with $500 each. 

To close out the show we heard from this year’s Keynote Speaker, Joey Adler. She lives and breaths the theme of the conference. After leaving Diesel Canada as President & CEO she went on to start a few social enterprises. One of them being onxone, endorsed by Matt Damon. She shared what she’s learned from social entrepreneurship and the importance of thinking socially within entrepreneurial ventures. 


Our second year is now under our belt and we couldn’t be happier! From February 17-19, 2016, 140 student entrepreneurs came to Halifax from 6 different provinces. Not only did we up our registration but we upped the stakes by giving away over $11,500 in funding and prizes!

Here’s what happened…

2017 Students Pitch at Opening reception

This year we changed things up a bit with our Opening Reception & ‘Big Ideas’ Trade Show. Instead of select student businesses presenting their business at assigned tables, everyone was given the opportunity to pitch their ideas at given themed tables. All they had to do was engage an audience and gather a crowd.

Our Master Classes this year where incredible, and unlike anything we have seen before, including a disco ball. Students learned form experienced entrepreneurs on topics that relate to “Make It Happen”.


Master class instructors:

– Paul Leblanc, Serial Entrepreneur & Founder of Be Human

– Bailey Parnell, Founder & CEO, SkillsCamp

– Jared Perry, Social Entrepreneur

– Jan Keck, Video Magician, BIG3 Video Agency

– Natalia Kantor, Creative Director, BIG3 Video Agency

– Jennifer Nicholson, Co-Founder, Executive Finance

– Blair Cook, Co-Founder, Executive Finance

– Mike Tanner, Founder, OneRedCat

– Carolyne Crewe, Co-Founder, Duckish Natural Skin Care

– Laura Simpson, Owner, The Syrup Factory & Founder, Make.Do.Camp


After a day full of Master Classes, we topped it of with our Dinner & Keynote with Warren Macdonald. A true testament to this years theme “Make it Happen”, Warren Macdonald’s life’s boundaries were redefined in April 1997 with his accident on North Queensland’s (Australia) Hinchinbrook Island.

Climbing to the Island’s tallest peak, he became trapped beneath a one-ton slab boulder in a freak rock fall. Two days later, he was rescued, only to undergo the amputation of both legs at mid thigh. Just ten months later, he climbed Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain using a modified wheelchair and the seat of his pants.

The final day was full of opportunities for students to win money. We started it of with Funder Speed Dating, an opportunity for students to pitch their business ideas to a group of funders for a chance to win. Students were given only five minutes to pitch to each funder, and then had to move on to the next. From this event, 8 businesses were rewarded money for their businesses.

After lunch, students headed over to the Ideation Tournament where they got in groups of 5 or 6. They were given the problem to solve food insecurity while still making it financially sustainable. They had two hours to come up with a solution, make a 2 minute video explaining there solution, and submit it for judging.

Here’s who won the cash:

– Jeremie Arsenault from Holland College

– Matt and Logan Webb from Dalhousie University

– Ryan Sanderson from Halifax West High School

– Dylan Thompson- McKay from Nova Scotia Community College

– Zaniar Ahmad from Mohawk College

– Chanel Mazerolle from Luis Bracamonte, Mount Saint Vincent University

– Alex Ross, Options Youth from Saint Mary’s University

– Amanda Maginley from New Brunswick Community College

After lunch, students headed over to the Ideation Tournament where they got in groups of 5 or 6. They were given the problem to solve food insecurity while still making it financially sustainable. They had two hours to come up with a solution, make a 2 minute video explaining there solution, and submit it for judging.

Finally we ended of the conference with the awards ceremony, giving out over $10 000 in funding and prizes. At the awards ceremony gave prizes to the winner of the Funder Speed Dating, the Ideation Tournament, and New Product Competition. Along with that, prizes were awarded for the online components of the conference, with students being challanged to interact through our app, using hashtags, and through SnapChat.


The Starting Point Student Entrepreneurship Conference had another very successful year! From 20-22 February 2018, 190 existing or aspiring student entrepreneurs came to Halifax from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador. Over $8,000 in funding and prizing distributed.

Here’s what happened…

This year, Starting Point held a casual opening reception. This is something very different from what we were used to in previous year, taking out the heavily interactive portion of the opening reception. We simply brought together the attendees to meet, socialize, and eat. We did have a few smaller things to keep people interested, like a draw for a door prize, and a chance for the most “Fearless” student to spontaneously get up on stage, and pitch their business idea. This was very successful, having two students race, and tie to getting to the front of the stage, both pitching their idea for a cash prize.               

Our Master Classes encouraged participants to stick around for the full two days of the conference, and break up the classroom portions with interactive activities like Iron Entrepreneur, and Funder Speed Dating.

Master class instructors:

Max Always-Townsend, Founder ofJobalo
Chris Campbell, Founder of A Million Moving Parts
Sheena Russell, Co-Funder of Made with Local
Tash Jefferies, Co-Funder of Video Made Simple
Matt Wowchck, NorthKeg
Brian Stever, Co-Host of Sickboy Podcast
Brianna Stratton, President & Co-Funder of DeNova
Hai Hu, Co-Funder of Skyline
Kena Paranjape, Co-Funder of  BRIKA
Stefanie MacDonald, Owner of Halifax Paper Hearts


The Pipeline process is an interactive accelerator designed to aide participants through the process of creating sustainable business ideas. With its very successful launch in the past year in the SMUEC, it was a perfect opportunity to further engage a different group of students, a high school Entrepreneurship 12 class.PARTNER TRADE SHOW & LUNCHConference delegates had the opportunity to network, and meet conference sponsors through the Partner Trade Show & Lunch. This gave them the opportunity to share and learn the business resources that help Start Point thrive each year. 

Trade show participants included: 

– Canada Business
– Futurepreneur
– Starting Lean
– Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development
 – Masters of Technology, Education and Innovation 
– Square Roots Bundle & Token Service


The Iron Entrepreneur brings together young minds to develop innovative and revolutionary ideas to solve a problem affecting our society. The issue that students aimed to solve is associated with one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Poverty. Students were divided into groups and competed against the other teams in the tournament. 
Iron Entrepreneur Winners – People Helping People- Austin Castellanos, Saint Mary’s University- Stuart Clow, Saint Mary’s University- Samuel Jennings-Lindsay, Dalhousie University – Alex Fitzpatrick, Saint Mary’s UniversityDINNER & KEYNOTE After the 2017 Starting Point keynote experience, we wanted to make this portion of the conference bigger and better. This year, we brought the event off campus to the Halifax Casino, for a more outside experience for the guests. Along with that, we wanted to focus more on entrepreneurship after the 2017 conference. We were able to bring in Tristram Stuart from UK, who focuses on food waste reduction. We thought he was a great example of being a “Fearless” entrepreneur. 

The third day we have master classes continued and also, THE SPARK ZONE: New Product Competition and Funder Speed Dating.The New Product Competition is a pre-existing competition that ties in strongly with Starting Point on an entrepreneurial focus. Each year, the Spark Zone hosts a portion of the event in Starting Point, targeting the same audience to two different events. Funder Speed Dating is a Starting Point favorite year after year. This year, we wanted to change the application process, encouraging people to record their business pitches with a two minute time constriction, and upload it through an online portal. The top 20 video submissions where then invited to participate in our traditional concept of Funder Speed Dating. This included participants moving from table to table, pitching their ideas to judges with a five minute time limit, in hopes of winning money. This year, five different businesses were awarded $1,000 each.Here’s who won the cash:- Zhixin Kon & Yuguo Tang – Mo Makeup- Alex Hennifent – Voltfuse- Jonathan Nguyen – Ocean Proof Technology- Matilda Shapland – Madzmods- Matt Webb – Community Bio Fuels
AWARDS, PITCHES, & PRIZESTo wrap up the conference and celebrate the student’s successes, an award ceremony was held. Each year, we look to find the most engaged students entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs with the highest spirit, and the best ideas. Each selected winner has to pitch their ideas in the conference ceremony in order to claim their prizes.

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